The Comets received to open the third stanza, and on the first play from scrimmage, Bates ran 56 yards for the score. Byers added the deuce and it was 29-14.
But Bluffton answered quickly. Eskridge broke off a 55-yard run and scored from 17 yards out to make it 35-14. Once again, Eastern responded. A nine-play 69-yard drive was capped by Byers’ 35-yard scamper around left end to narrow the gap to 35-20.
Then the Tigers put the game out of reach with four consecutive scores. Morgan scored from 15 yards out, QB Malcom Marshall ran one in from the eight, Eskridge broke free from 39 yards away, and Cody Harris returned an interception 62 yards to put the game out of reach at 62-20.
The Comets managed two fourth-quarter scores, a Bates to Will Porter 33-yard pass and a six-yard end around by Braden Gibson. But it wasn’t enough.
Eskridge finished with 216 yards on 18 carries while Morgan had 111 yards on just eight rushes. For Eastern, Byers broke the century mark with 103 yards on 12 totes, and Bates completed 12 of 32 passes for 127 yards.
Looking ahead, Edwards is excited about next year as the Comets return 40 of 43 players.
“We’ve got basically our entire team coming back next year,” he said. “We’re very young. If we get these kids in the weight room and get them to become more physical and more mature mentally, I think this is going to be a team to be reckoned with.”